Bring on the pretty! The charming, gorgeous, and talented Miss Katie talks about achieving high style on a flea market budget, and all things gold and glittery… And we are just lucky enough that Katie has chosen to call one of our renovations home. So a few months back I grabbed a bottle of wine and my camera and met up with Katie at her gorgeous apartment. That apartment happens to be the upper apartment in an extensive Colonial renovation we nicknamed the “treehouse” for its gorgeous views. It was an 18-month, exhausting, top-to-bottom renovation. [ See the Before & After Pictures here.] But our hard work paid off and brought us the kindest, most thoughtful tenants like the lovely Miss Katie, who has done an incredible job making the apartment her pretty, girly, Southern home. And all on a flea-market budget! So after the photo shoot I sat down with Katie for wine, loads of laughs, and an interview about her design style and her inspiring tips for creating beautiful designs on a shoestring budget…
TERA JANELLE: How would you describe your design style?
KATIE: Shabby chic meets classic Southern elegance. A bit feminine, a bit girly-sparkle. What I think about most is ambiance, creating a sense of elegance and ambiance.
TJ: Has your design style evolved over the years? Have you always been drawn to pretty interiors?
K: I’ve always liked to design pretty spaces, but my design style didn’t fully evolve until I got my own apartment [without roommates]. I’d always created pretty little spaces in my previous apartments, but the characteristics of this apartment, they are what drew me in: the gray, the Southern-style fireplace. It all inspired me.
My style has definitely matured over the years, I’ve had different definitions of what is pretty. Today my definition of “pretty” is a space that I feel comfortable in, a space that feels like me. I want my gallery wall or decorations — or my bar cart design, I love that bar cart — to be decorated in a way that has meaning to me. If I had $1,000,000, of if I married rich (laugh), I’m sure my space would look differently. But I’ve made do with things I’ve been given, with things I’ve found on Craigslist. I use paint and add new knobs. My Grandpa built my nightstands for me — I call him “Papa” — I’ve had them since I was seven or eight. Many times people don’t know how to use hand me downs. I’m on a budget, I had to figure it out.
TJ: Has living in the South influenced your design aesthetic? Do you consider yourself a Southern girl?
K: I’m definitely a Southern girl (laugh), let’s just put that out there. My dream town is Charleston, South Carolina. It has a balance of big city and small town feel. It has classy elegance. I love Southern hospitality and making people feel taken care of, making them feel comfortable in my space. I don’t know where I get it from, maybe my Grandma on my dad’s side. She would always make us feel welcome. She always had something in the oven, clean towels out, clean sheets on the beds, and the fridge fully stocked.
TJ: Where do you turn for design inspiration?
K: Instagram. Design blogs. Interior decorators. Pinterest. Not one specific person or style. I’m intrigued by a whole variety of people and styles, not that I want to replicate them, but it inspires me to see what they do well… how I can incorporate some aspect of that in my own space.
TJ: Who are your favorite designers? What are your favorite product lines?
K: Threshold, Nate Berkus, Jillian Harris. Pearls & Pastries, on etsy. She’s the one who made the sequin hanger in my office. Her office spaces are classy, girly and sparkly.
TJ: Is there a particular color or texture you’re drawn to this spring/summer?
K: I’m really into stripes, though I suppose that’s not really a “seasonal” thing. I like items with dimension and a pop of color. I like anything with a sense of texture. I’m not huge on “rustic” pieces, but my Grandma gave me that box in the kitchen — and I don’t want any more “rustic,” that box is enough for the whole kitchen — but I like that balance. I like the touch of rustic on the coffee table box too. I also had a chicken feed sack, but that was too much, over the top for me. So I got rid of it.
TJ: Is there a room or design challenge that is your nemesis?
K: The landing at the top of my stairs. I just hate that space, it becomes a catch-all. I want a welcoming, clean sophisticated space that draws people in.
TJ: What is your favorite crafty project or budget find?
K: I’ve been really loving thrift shop finds plus a can of gold spray paint. I mean it’s not always gold… well, right now it often is. My entry mirror was a $5 flea market find that I painted gold. The bar cart used to be silver, so did the wire shelves. I got them both for $70 and spray painted them gold. I also like adding glitter to a piece, it adds sparkle and dimension — like the piece of artwork above my living room chair and the “cafe” can in the kitchen.
TJ: What’s your favorite gold paint?
K: Rustoleum’s metallic bright gold.
TJ: Do you have any advice for renters on making a rental space their own?
K: Ask if you can paint! If you’re considering living in a space for a couple of years, it’s worth the time and money, make it feel like home. Also, take chances. Many times you don’t know if something will work until you try. I paid $5 for two tables. One is blue and in my clo-ffice; that’s what I call my closet/office. I sold the other one to a friend because it didn’t end up working in my space. But it was worth a try. I like to add a little distressing to thrift-find pieces. It takes work but I find it therapeutic. I’m very independent — I hang everything on my own in my house. I’m not afraid to use a drill. I sand and stain. I don’t need a man to do those things for me. I can do those things.
TJ: What is your guilty pleasure?
K: Handbags. I love handbags. I would rather pay a little more for a purse and sacrifice buying clothes or shoes.
TJ: What is something you are especially passionate about?
K: Event planning. Planning a bridal shower or baby shower or fun girls’ night in. If I’m hosting a party on my deck or in the living room, I’ll weave elements of the party’s theme throughout the rest of my space. I love it. It takes money and time, and I do a lot of things DIY to keep them affordable, but event planning is something that I’m always excited to do.
KATIE’S FAVORITE THINGS:
Go-to Outfit: Well let me say that my answer to all of these depend on my mood. But usually black. It’s classy and slimming and makes me feel confident. Maybe a riding pant and long tunic shirt. I just found a great tunic shirt at SAMS Club actually, of all places. I love tunics, you can dress them up or down.
Piece of Jewlery: Stackable gold jewlery; any chunky, “blingy” bracelets, really. Or maybe a big statement necklace.
Current Design Obsession: Stripes. Herringbone. The concept that “not matching is matching” — like the pillows on my couch.
Color I Never Tire Of: In fashion, black. In design, burnt orange, maybe? I dunno, that’s probably seasonal.
Go To Color Palette: Gray, gold and white.
Indulgence: I love mirrored things… mirrored frames and nightstands. I love exploring mixed metals in a space, but I’m still working on it. I also like the Easter Robin Eggs by Cadbury. That’s what I had for dinner last night.
Flower: Peonies. Is it pee-own-ee or pee-in-ee? You taught English, which is it?
TJ: Pee-in-ee. I mean, I think; maybe it’s a regional thing? I’m from Wisconsin. We say Pee-in-ees.
K: Well fine then, hydrangea. (laugh)
Food or Drink: Both! I’m not one of those girls who is afraid to eat. I love Mexican food, for breakfast, dinner and lunch. I also love homemade sangrias with fresh mint.
Way to Unwind: A hot, hot, hot bubble bath. I love Teals bubble bath; it’s from Walgreens. It’s eucalyptus and super relaxing. Some bubble bath is not that bubbly. I like bubbles in my bubble baths, and having a night light, glass of wine, and a candle.
Design Rule to Break: Matching. Not matching is the new matching.
Dream Project: An island in my walk-in-closet. Also, I love bubble baths, so maybe a claw foot tub in a bathroom with marble absolutely everywhere. On a side note, I love the window in the bathroom here. It lets in so much natural light. It’s great for putting on make up. I’d always like a window in my bath.
A huge thanks to Katie for letting me and my camera drop by her beautiful apartment. She’s such a super-talent that she has the vision and inspiration to continually update and refresh her spaces. In fact, by the time this interview made it to the blog, she’d already completely redecorated her bedroom and bathroom. So sometime soon, I’m just going to have to grab my camera and a bottle of wine and head back over to see her. Can’t wait! ♥